ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
of Gregory Rasputin and his alcoholic and sexual indulgence, which as a starya (старя) or “old one” he insisted was holiness. The same was true of some of the radical Anabaptists during the Reformation. Either the ascetic or libertine way is supposed to liberate the pneumatic from the tyranny of natural law, that is to say, the archons.
Gnosticism, Judaism, and Christianity
The Near East was in profound religious ferment during the first two centuries of Christian era. Indeed, the rise of Christianity was an important component of this ferment. The Dead Sea Scrolls document the various Jewish movements which flourished at the time of Jesus, many of which were eschatological. (The term eschatology (έςκάτοσ) literally means “furthest,” and, in the theological sense, eschatology refers to “last things” such as death, resurrection, judgment, and immortality.) The emergence of Christianity, which was one of these movements, was anything but an isolated phenomenon. Gnostic sects sprang up in profusion everywhere in the wake of the expansion of Christianity during the time of Paul and other apostles. All were concerned with personal salvation (from the Latin salvatio meaning “to save”) or were soterial (from the Greek ςοτέροσ which also means “to save”). The Greek term αποκαλιπιπςισ means “to disclose” or “to reveal,” therefore revelation. What was revealed was the coming day, what is to happen in the future, which, in Judaism and Christianity, meant the Day of Judgment, the Dies Irae (L) or “day of wrath.” This expectation was shared with the Gnostic sects.
A major theological problem during this time was how to establish the relationship between God in his purity and perfection and the corruption of the lower world. This led to the development of the Platonic concept of the Logos (“the word”), which by extension in Greek philosophy referred to the “controlling principle of the universe”: that which comes forth from the divine and is manifest in time/space. In Christian theology, of course, the Logos is Jesus, as the second person in the Trinity. This concept was associated with the Hebrew dabar (רבד), also “word.” The Gospel According to John begins:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1-5 KJV)
According to the commentary in The Interpreter’s Bible vol. 8, the apostle “recalls the opening words of Genesis, and suggests an equation between the Logos and God.” The Johannine assertion of Logos differs sharply from the Gnostic. While, for the latter, matter is essentially evil, separated from the Supreme Being by intermediaries, John declares that “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1: 3)
In Pagan Gnostic theology, Man is the third in a triad of successive divine emanations. The first two are the Word (Λόγοσ) and the Demi-Urge (Δεμιύργοσ), each of which fulfills a cosmogenic task. God as Supreme Being created the